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  • Atomic City Update: District play has not been kind to Hilltopper basketball

    For any high school team, winning against rival schools is one of the most satisfying feelings. Most of the time, the kids on rival teams are the ones you have known for years, and probably competed with at some point. They know what you do well, and you know what they do well. That sense of familiarity creates some of the best competition, and makes the desire to win even greater.

    This is one of the reasons why having both basketball teams at Los Alamos High School go 0-4 through the first rotation of district games is so frustrating, for those in the community who watch, and especially those who are coaching and playing.

    For the boys’ team, this is an unexpected development. Heading into this season, the team appeared primed for immediate success. With eight seniors on the roster, the team was expected to be one of the top teams in Class 5A, and was selected by the Santa Fe New Mexican as the team to beat in District 2-5A.

    However, things haven’t gone as expected. LAHS has lost all four of its district games, with the closest game coming in a 6-point loss against Capital High School.

    In the other games, an 11-point loss to Albuquerque Academy, a 13-point loss to Del Norte and a 24-point loss to Española Valley, the outcome was decided long before the final whistle blew.

  • Atomic Tumblers bring home 17 gold medals at Winter Fiesta

    Competing against 15 teams from around the region, the Los Alamos Atomic Tumblers brought home 17 gold medals at the annual Winter Fiesta competition in Albuquerque.

    The Atomic Tumblers competed In the Xcel competition. Los Alamos was the only team in New Mexico who fielded enough gymnasts in the (top) Diamond Division for team competition, meaning no team competition was held.

    Individually, Brianna Fryer brought home a gold medal with a score of 8.90 on the bars, and earned fourth place in the all-around competition. Hannah Gram took home the silver medal in the all-around.

    In the Platinum competition, Atomic Tumblers took second place as a team. There were two age divisions, junior and senior, but all Los Alamos gymnasts competed in the junior division. Megan Brown earned the silver medal in the all-around, while Colette Bibeault earned the bronze. Individually, Bibeault earned a gold on the beam with a score of 9.20, Sara Gardner earned a gold on the floor with a score of 9.20 and Danielle Trellue earned a gold on the vault with a score of 9.20.

  • Top-ranked Sundevils dominate against LAHS

    Facing its biggest test of the season, the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team was unable to slow down the top ranked team in Class 5A, falling to Española Valley High School 87-63.

    But just looking at the final box score wouldn’t do the Hilltoppers justice. In the early going, it was clear that the kids from Los Alamos were overwhelmed, and somewhat intimidated.

    Ill-advised shots were taken all over the floor, and turnovers happened with regularity throughout the first quarter. The Sundevils scored the first 9 points of the game, and the Hilltoppers answered with 7 straight.

    And then the real problems began. With the help of Hilltopper turnovers, Española Valley scored 22 straight points, and appeared unstoppable from everywhere on the floor.

    The scoring run gave the Sundevils a 31-7 lead in the second quarter, a deficit that would be nearly impossible for any team to overcome.

    LAHS never stopped fighting, though.

    Through the remainder of the second quarter, the Hilltoppers kept the deficit the same, with both teams scoring 15 points. After knocking down just three shots in the first quarter, LAHS connected on six shots in the second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers from Ramon Roybal and Brandan Duran.

    Heading into halftime, the Sundevils led 46-22.

  • Hilltoppers fail to execute in loss to Española Valley

    Finding areas that need improvement on the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is easy. Figuring out the solutions in those areas is far more difficult.

    Issues that have popped up all season, free throw shooting, ball handling, clock management, were on full display Saturday night as the Hilltoppers fell to Española Valley High School 37-27.

    It was a sloppy contest from the very beginning, as the Hilltoppers were unable to hold onto the ball, leading to easy baskets for the Sundevils. Española Valley’s Kaylee Chavez took advantage of the offensive opportunities throughout the first quarter, as she scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

    Meanwhile, the Hilltoppers were unable to get anything going in the first quarter, scoring only 3 points on one made basket.

    After the first quarter, the Hilltoppers trailed 17-3.

    The struggles continued on the offensive end for LAHS into the second quarter, but the defense was much better. The Sundevils were only able to score 6 points in the second quarter, but LAHS added just 4 points, as the Hilltoppers trailed 23-7 heading into halftime.

  • Cibola too much for LAHS to handle

    Heading into this season, Los Alamos High School hockey coach Kevin Brake said he expected this to be a rebuilding year. And he was completely right. With a young roster, and very little experience on defense, the group has struggled this year and finds itself well behind the leaders in the standings of the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League as the season winds down.

    Last weekend, in the final games of the season at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink, league leader Cibola invaded and dominated a two-game series, defeating the Hilltoppers 5-1 Friday night and 12-4 Saturday morning.

    Cibola has only lost one time in regulation this season, and has a record of 11-1-2. The Cougars have outscored opponents 114-50, and are one of the most aggressive teams in the league.

    Friday night, Cibola wasted very little time showing why it has dominated all season.

    Six minutes into the first period, Cibola’s Steven Bitzer scored a shorthanded goal, his first goal of the season, to put the Cougars on top 1-0.

    Though Jared Carnes scored for the Hilltoppers with just over one minute left in the first period to even the score 1-1, the joy was short-lived.

  • Hilltoppers nearly pull off upset of Capital

    The Los Alamos boys’ basketball team played its most complete District 2-5A game yet, and it just wasn’t enough.

    In Wednesday night’s battle at Griffith Gymnasium between the Hilltoppers and Capital High School, the Jaguars jumped out to a lead and hung on, despite an impressive comeback attempt by LAHS.

    “The effort was there,” LAHS head coach Mike Kluk said. “We kept digging out of that hole, but unfortunately we kept digging the hole. It’s the story of the season. We miss shots that other teams have no problem making. We miss free throws. We turn the ball over. You just can’t do that, especially against good teams like Capital.

    The Jaguars entered the game ranked No. 3 in District 2-5A, with the team’s only district loss coming last week on the road against No. 1 Española Valley.

    In Wednesday’s game, both teams started out shooting well, and matching each other shot-for shot.

    Aaron Garcia was the catalyst for Capital in the first quarter, scoring 11 points and knocking down five shots.

    The scoring came all over from the Hilltoppers, as Michael Naranjo scored 6 points and David Owen had 5 points in the opening quarter, which ended in a 17-17 score.

  • Offense struggles late as LAHS falls

    Finishing up the first round of district contests, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team headed to district-leader Capital High School Tuesday evening, falling 52-36 in a game that was often closer than the score indicated.

    On paper, the game appeared to be a mismatch. Capital entered the contest 3-0 in District 2-5A games, while the Hilltoppers came in 0-3 in district play and winless since late December.

    Much like LAHS’ last game, against Española Valley, the team fell behind early.

    Throughout the first quarter, Capital couldn’t miss, while the Hilltoppers had trouble hanging onto the ball.

    The Jaguars connected on seven shots in the quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers that allowed Capital to jump out to a quick 18-4 lead.

    The Hilltoppers’ only points in the quarter came from a pair of layups from Natalie Gallegos and Anna Lemke.

    Despite trailing by such a large margin, LAHS came out in the second quarter with a noticeable increase in energy.

    One of the big reasons for that was junior guard Alex Calderon, who saw his first action in district play. She immediately sparked the offense from the point guard position, and set the team up for success with her passing and playmaking ability.

  • Defense struggles for LAHS in tough four-game stretch

    After being stuck in the middle of the league standings throughout most of the season, the Los Alamos High School ice hockey team returned to the Los Alamos County Ice Rink for four pivotal games against Telluride and Durango.

    These were especially important games, because matchups against Telluride provided the Hilltoppers an opportunity to take down one of the top teams in the league, while games against Durango offered LAHS a chance to distance itself from other teams in the middle of the league.

    However, the team was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, dropping both games against Telluride, losing one game to Durango and earning a tie in the other game.

    The struggles against Telluride have been consistent throughout the season, as LAHS drops to 0-4 against the Lizard Heads. Last weekend the team lost 7-4 Friday night and 9-4 Saturday morning.

    This year’s series against Durango has been more competitive, as the Hilltoppers won the first meeting in mid-December before losing two of the past three matchups. This weekend, the Hilltoppers tied the Devils 5-5 Saturday night and lost 8-3 Sunday morning, likely the result of fatigue after playing four games in three days.

  • Hilltoppers prepare for toughest test of season

    Of all the games the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team will play this season, there will likely be none tougher than the test the Hilltoppers face tonight in Española.

    The Española Valley High School Sundevils are the top-ranked team in Class 5A, and are viewed by many as the top team in the state of New Mexico, regardless of classification.

    This week, that stance has only grown stronger. Tuesday night in Española, the Sundevils faced District 2-5A rival, and No. 3 ranked 5A team, Capital High School in what has become one of the best rivalries in the state.

    And facing its toughest opponent so far this season, the Sundevils cruised to an 83-65 win. It was so decisive that the stands that were filled to capacity at tipoff were half empty by the middle of the fourth quarter.

    Capital, which came into the game giving up fewer than 55 points per game on average, gave up nearly that many in the second half alone.

    Española Valley is one of the most well balanced teams in the state, with the ability to defend every player on the floor, and score in a variety of ways.

  • Shorthanded Hilltoppers come up short on back-to-back days

    The recent rough stretch for the Los Alamos High School boys’ basketball team continued over the weekend, as the Hilltoppers lost to Goddard High School and Albuquerque Academy inside Griffith Gymnasium.

    With senior forward Troy Hammock in street clothes on the bench in both games, the Hilltoppers played with just eight players in uniform. According to LAHS head coach Mike Kluk, it is not yet known whether Hammock will be able to return to action this season.

    The impact of Hammock’s absence was immediately noticeable, as the Hilltoppers were forced to change the starting lineup, and often had a smaller group on the floor during Friday’s game against Goddard.

    Though the offense got off to a good start in the game, repeatedly getting close to the basket for easy baskets, Goddard’s offense was even more impressive. The Rockets knocked down four 3-pointers in the first quarter, and appeared comfortable setting up beyond the arc and waiting for an open shot.

    With the help of those deep shots, Goddard led 18-14 after the first quarter.

    In the second quarter, Ramon Roybal got on a roll for the Hilltoppers, and knocked down three 3-pointers. His strong quarter helped propel LAHS to a halftime lead, 36-32.